Hoops Recruitin' Battles with the Big Boys

Hoops Recruitin' Battles with the Big Boys matt D September 24th, 2019 at 10:38 AM
[Marc-Gregor Campredon]

So I’ll be around MGoBlog in an official capacity with scouting analysis and recruiting updates. Brian and company were gracious enough to bring me aboard and I’m fortunate to work with an excellent crew. Hopefully they can tolerate me for the foreseeable future. I’m not the most charismatic guy around, so that’s it for the intro stuff. Let’s get to actual recruiting news.

Since being hired in May, Coach Howard has not shied away from direct battles with the likes of Duke, North Carolina, Kentucky and Kansas. While that approach has yet to produce a commit, it hasn’t served as a deterrent despite a few prospects coming off the board to the aforementioned pool. With multiple prospects slated to visit Ann-Arbor over the next month and the early signing period during November, the early results will be in soon.

Holding Steady

Michigan is in solid position for 2020 five-star combo guard Nimari Burnett after hosting the Chicago native for an official visit two weeks ago. He recently dropped Louisville from his final five. A collective gasp ensued when news broke that Memphis would conduct an in-home visit last week. Burnett promptly said thanks, but no thanks, to Penny Hardaway and staff. In the aftermath, the entire Michigan staff was on hand for a September 17th home visit. A longstanding relationship with Howard, opportunity for early playing time, and the desired on-ball role are all factors in favor of the Maize and Blue.

Oregon was originally scheduled to receive an official visit last weekend, but that has been pushed back to October 26. Alabama, perhaps the stiffest competition to Michigan, will host Nimari and family in Tuscaloosa this weekend for an official visit. As of now, the plan is to wait until December-January to make a commitment. 

[Hit THE JUMP for more battles against blue-bloods.]

On to the Next One

With Walker Kessler off the board to UNC, the Wolverines are likely to intensify pursuit of Top-40 overall center Hunter Dickinson. The DMV area big man made his way to campus for an early September official and came away with praise for Howard’s approach.

“I think I’d met him in person twice but being able to really talk to him and get to know him was cool,” Dickinson said. “He’s honest and he’s not a salesman. He’s got a really good personality. He loves his school too.”

Dickinson said he’s been a fan of Howard “for a while,” especially since watching ESPN’s Fab Five documentary a few years back. “I always thought it was cool what they did and how they did it at Michigan,” Dickinson said.

In addition to Howard, Dickinson said the strength and conditioning program “really stood out.”

“The strength coach really knew what he was talking about,” Dickinson said. “It was one of the better visits that I’ve had, I’d say. It gives me a lot to think about with it being the first official of my senior year.”

A final 7 composed of Michigan along with Purdue, Notre Dame, Louisville, Providence, North Carolina and Florida State seems less daunting with UNC likely out of the race with the Kessler commitment. Dickson visited Florida State last weekend and may cut his list to five in the coming weeks.

“I want to narrow it down as much as I can,” Dickinson said. “I will probably cut it before I make a decision; maybe to five if not more. I’ll do that in the new few weeks. I don’t really have a timeframe for a decision right now. I’ll just take these visits and go from there. I would say Michigan set a high bar for the visits. I had a good time there.”

Kessler has a visit scheduled to Purdue for October 19th, and the expectation is he will make a decision during the early signing period.

Top-30 VA center Mark Williams recently cut his list to Duke, Michigan, Ohio State, Stanford, and UCLA. With Duke losing Kessler to UNC, you can expect Coach K to put the full-court press on Williams. Duke already controlled the crystal ball prior to the Kessler news, and insider tea leaves seem to indicate Williams to Durham is the safe bet. 

More 2020 Visitors on Deck

Michigan is set to host consensus 5-star Isaiah Todd and Top-50 wing Moses Moody for official visits this weekend.

Todd has a final five of Kansas, Kentucky, Memphis, Michigan and North Carolina. Kentucky is the presumed favorite here and has made the wing/forward a priority.

“It definitely showed me that they [Kentucky] really want me and made me feel special,” Todd said. “To come to me on the first day was big. Not to say that if the other schools didn’t come today that they don’t feel the same way. It was just cool to see them.”

While Michigan is in tough against the bluest of bluebloods, you simply do not pass up the opportunity to host a prospect of Todd’s caliber. A puncher’s chance is the expectation here, with Howard’s personality and NBA resume hopefully making an impression.

Moody has Michigan alongside original home-state Arkansas, Florida, Kansas, Ohio State, Oregon and USC. With Kansas facing potential sanctions and Ohio State possibly out of room with the commitment of top-100 wing Eugene Brown, the Wolverines may be able to make up a ton of ground here despite being late to the offer party. Moody doesn’t necessarily possess the physical tools or skill set often seen from typical one-and-dones, and the crystal ball indicates this one may be wide open.

A source indicates Ohio State and Oregon are out of the picture, leaving the two SEC schools as Michigan's main competition.

File These Under Unlikely

Michigan made the final five for VA forward Henry Coleman in early August. After a home-visit from Duke on September 16, the top-40 forward immediately set a 9/27 announcement date. This will end the way we think it will.

Composite five-star guard Jaden Springer made an official visit to Ann Arbor in late August and subsequently placed the good guys in a final three. But it has become universally accepted the physically developed guard will ultimately choose Tennessee, as evidenced by 100% of the crystal picks in favor of the Volunteers.

Howard hasn’t really prioritized Waterford Mott F/C Isaiah Jackson. Assistant Coach Saddi Washington dropped in on the top-40 prospect a few weeks back, but Alabama, Kentucky and Syracuse are the programs most heavily involved here, with Nate Oats and the Crimson Tide the current favorite.

Josh Christopher is another five-star type that listed Michigan in a top five list. Kentucky recently broke up with the CA guard after the Terrance Clarke commitment, which would presumably place Michigan in a better position considering the remaining options. Not so fast, with his brother at Arizona State and family on staff at Missouri. It looks like UCLA may be the landing spot.

The Not So Distant Future

Michigan offered 2021 WA five-star Paolo Banchero on Saturday, and immediately entered his top ten (previously a top nine). While that is certainly noteworthy, both of his parents were former athletes at Washington. In tandem with the other nine finalists, this one probably won’t gain much traction.

Howard was in for NV guard Jaden Hardy last Thursday and extended a scholarship offer. Originally from the Detroit area, the top-ten prospect is originally a 2020 that reclassified upon his brother’s (Amuari Hardy) commitment to UNLV in 2017. History has it that the elder Hardy reached out to Michigan about their possible interest under then-coach John Beilein while still a HS prospect, but nothing serious materialized. It will be interesting to see how this recruitment unfolds on many fronts. Will Hardy reclass back to 2020? Is Michigan working with a clean slate under a new regime?

Fast-rising local products Jaden Akins and Kobe Bufkin were both on campus for the Army game. 

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A State Fan

September 24th, 2019 at 10:52 AM ^

Jumping in with an MSU question!

Did MSU stop recruiting Jackson? I heard a while back he was a long shot after seemingly being close to Watts and Terry. Could that have anything to do with playing at SPIRE? With Watts needing an extra class to get eligible for MSU I wonder what the academics are really like there.

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September 24th, 2019 at 10:52 AM ^

On Todd, fwiw unc 247 site says despite the visits to unc, he will not be going there. Supposedly he is just friends with some unc players. I have also read from some reputable people that uk is not a factor for todd(calipari has yet visit him during this eval period). Memphis insiders also say the communication between Todd and the coaching staff has been lukewarm. Of Todd’s final 5, juwan and self are the only coaches to do in homes. With kus ncaa issues, um’s biggest competition there  could be overseas(word is Todd is heavily considering that).

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September 24th, 2019 at 10:59 AM ^

Juwan is going to unlock Chicago which should be exceptionally fertile ground.  Lots of Chicago's best have been going to the big powers or random one offs - hardly any of them are going Big Ten as Illinois has totally botched recruitment efforts there.

It's the most basketball-rich talent base in the country and Juwan will own it.

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